ViaCyte extends series D by $45M one day after losing its chief scientific officer

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ViaCyte secures another $45 million for to bring forward two phase 2 studies of type 1 diabetes candidates.

More than two and a half years after raising an $80 million series D, ViaCyte has expanded the round with a $45 million financing tranche.

The San Diego-based clinical stage biotech is developing multiple programs aimed at treating type 1 diabetes. Wednesday’s tranche will help the company further build out its portfolio of stem cell-derived therapies.

The financing infusion comes a day after ViaCyte said Chief Scientific Officer Kevin D’Amour, Ph.D., is resigning effective June 25 to "pursue other opportunities.” The company named Evert Kroon, Ph.D., vice president of translation research, as its interim CSO as it searches for a successor.

D’Amour's departure continues a recent trend of management changes for the biotech. 

In January, ViaCyte tapped Acadia and Janssen vet Michael Yang as its CEO and president. Plus, five months into her tenure as chief financial officer, Brittany Bradrick scored the chief operating officer post. To complete a trio of January moves, ViaCyte handed the chief technology officer reins to Steve White, who had been vice president of global R&D at Baxter Healthcare.

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Wednesday’s proceeds will help ViaCyte advance its phase 2 clinical study on PEC-Encap, a treatment made up of pancreatic islet precursor cells inside a novel membrane. The money will also help the biotech provide data on another phase 2 candidate, PEC-Direct, in the first half of next year. ViaCyte further aims to start a first in human clinical trial by the year’s end for PEC-QT through a partnership with CRISPR Therapeutics.

“There have been few paradigm-shifting innovations in the 100 years since the discovery of insulin," Yang said in a statement. "ViaCyte’s portfolio of stem cell-derived therapies are first-in-category, first-in-class products that represent major advances in finding a functional cure for type 1 diabetes and other chronic diseases in the future."

Adage Capital Partners, Invus Group, Asymmetry Ventures and Artis Ventures invested in the company for the first time, joining existing backers Bain Capital Life Sciences, TPG Capital and others.

RELATED: J&J goes all in with ViaCyte, hands over BetaLogics assets in hunt for diabetes cure

ViaCyte’s PEC-Direct candidate targets patients with high-risk type 1 diabetes with hypoglycemia unawareness and/or extreme glycemic liability. The treatment is limited to high-risk patients because patients must take immunosuppressants long term.

With PEC-Encap, ViaCyte aims to protect implanted cells from the patient’s adaptive immune system. In the PEC-QT partnership with CRISPR, ViaCyte is working to potentially eliminate the need for immunosuppressants.